Foreign English teachers petition for entry to Taiwan

09/03/2021 09:39 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 3 (CNA) A coalition of foreign teachers and about 60 cram schools in Taiwan have launched a petition for the government to allow English teachers to enter the country.

The cram schools and the Foreign Teachers Coalition are appealing for inclusion in the categories of foreign nationals who recently received special permission to enter Taiwan, following those of international students, professors, and scholars, coalition member Oliver Ward told CNA Thursday.

While Taiwan's borders have been closed to non-residents since early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign English teachers were still able to apply for special permission to enter, but that stopped in June amid a spike in domestic cases of the disease in Taiwan, Ward said.

The petition, posted online in the form of an open letter to Taiwan's government, states that if Taiwan wants to meet its goal of becoming a bilingual country by 2030, it should allow the entry of English teachers as soon as possible.

"Our role in Taiwan's future is twofold: first we help fulfill the goal of a bilingual Taiwan, and second, we provide valuable diversity of perspective, which in turn provides for future innovation in Taiwan," the coalition says in the petition.

The coalition said it was pleased to see that Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and Ministry of Education (MOE) decided recently to open the country's borders to Huayu (Chinese language) Enrichment Scholarship recipients and allow them into Taiwan to pursue their studies.

It appealed for English teachers to be accorded the same consideration.

"After obtaining our goal of 500 signatures, we will continue to petition until we can obtain our goal of exceptions being made to allow teachers to enter the country and fulfill work contracts," the coalition said.

Meanwhile, some 60 cram schools in Taiwan that are part of the petition said that if they continue to face staffing shortages, it could lead to interruptions in other industries as parents will be unable to work.

"Approximately 70 percent of parents in Taiwan send their children to cram schools, while a majority of households include parents who both are employed full time," the petition states.

"This means that parents who send their children to these cram schools will not need to interrupt their day to pick up their children. This in turn helps maintain an efficient work force and provides a significant contribution to the Taiwanese economy," it says.

As of Friday, the petition had gained approximately 450 signatures, about 50 short of the coalition's initial goal.

Ward said the coalition will continue to appeal to Taiwan's government until foreign English teachers are allowed to enter the country to fulfill work contracts.

In response, the MOE said it will address the matter when it receives the petition via a formal channel.

The ministry added, however, that it does not have the authority to issue visas or work permits to foreign employees, as that falls under the offices of the foreign and labor ministries.

If those two ministries, in collaboration with the CECC, decide to allow the entry of other categories of foreign nationals, the MOE said, it will respect that decision.

Currently, Taiwan is processing applications for the entry of some 13,000 international students enrolled in degree programs and those who have received the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Taiwan Scholarship and the MOE's Huayu Enrichment Scholarship, according to officials.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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